Monday 19 August 2019

Garda denies 'massively excessive force' used to arrest man who claims he was wrongly detained and assaulted

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Tim Healy

A garda has told the High Court that reasonable force and not "massively excessive force" was used to arrest a man who claims he was wrongfully detained and assaulted.

Garda David Conway also said it was "not correct" to say the use of pepper spray on Gerald Jennings (34), a property manager from Carlow, was outrageous and unnecessary.

Garda Conway was being cross examined for a second day in Mr Jenning's action against the Garda Commissioner and the State claiming damages for wrongful arrest, detention and assault on December 2, 2012. The defendants deny the claims.

The case, now in its third week, is being heard by Mr Justice Bernard Barton and a jury of 11 after one juror had to leave for a planned holiday because the case went beyond its expected two-week length. Speeches to the jury are expected to take place on Thursday.

The court has heard the incident involving Mr Jennings arose after gardai were alerted to a savage street assault on Mr Jennings' fiancée, Martha Kowalczyk. The attacker was later identified as Colvin Keogh (26), The Paddocks, Carlow, who was eventually jailed for seven years. 

At the scene of the attack, Ms Kowalczyk was concerned her attacker might have stolen her apartment keys and she asked gardai to check on Mr Jennings, who was asleep on the sofa of her home in Centaur House, Carlow town.

Gardai told the court that after Mr Jennings was woken and informed his badly-beaten partner was outside in an ambulance and refusing to go to hospital, he became abusive and aggressive. Mr Jennings denies those claims.

Garda Conway said he decided to arrest Mr Jennings after he went out of the apartment and continued his abusive and aggressive behaviour. He said he put his hand on Mr Jennings' shoulder to arrest him and when Mr Jennings turned around, the officer pushed him in the chest and Mr Jennings pushed him back in the chest area.

He said he the tried to restrain Mr Jennings by putting his arm around his neck, but that was not successful. At that point he was pepper sprayed once by Sergeant Theresa Phillips and twice by Garda Conway.

On Wednesday, Michael McDowell SC, for Mr Jennings, suggested Mr Jennings offered no violence when he went on to the street. Garda Conway said he  was arrested due to his "whole deameanour" and his aggression.

He disagreed with counsel who said "massively excessive force" was used. He said "reasonable force was used to effect the arrest".

Garda Conway agreed he had stated in a report to the DPP, who decided there would be no prosecution of Mr Jennings on public order charges, that Mr Jennings had "made physical contact" with the officer and then he decided to arrest him.

He disagreed with counsel that was "a complete lie" or that he had "tailored his evidence" to suit what was shown to the court on CCTV footage of the arrest.

He denied he had waited until Mr Jennings was in a public place so he could arrest him for public order offences.  He denied he was angry with Mr Jennings but was shocked at his abusive behaviour. 

The case continues. 

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News